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Fruit morphogenetics for seed-size control (OSTERGAARDJ20DTP)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, November 25, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Flowering plants evolved during the Cretaceous Period >100 million years ago and quickly colonised terrestrial habitats. A major reason for their success was the formation and diversification of fruits that protect and nurture the developing seeds. The Brassicaceae family of flowering plants contains a wealth of diversity in fruit morphology and includes some of our genetically best characterised model plants and important crop species. Thus, the Brassicaceae family provides an ideal group of plants to study how specific shapes are established and their effect on reproduction.
Previous results have shown that photosynthesis in the fruit walls has a huge effect on seed growth with estimates suggesting that >50% of assimilates for seed filling originates from photosynthesis in the fruit walls. It is therefore possible that increasing the surface area of fruits in seed crops would lead to increased yield.

Oilseed rape belongs to the Brassicaceae family along with the model plants, Arabidopsis and Capsella. While Arabidopsis and oilseed rape produce cylindrical fruits, Capsella fruits are flat with a characteristic heart shape providing a relatively large surface for photosynthesis. We have identified several genes required for obtaining the Capsella fruit shape. Using this knowledge and available unique oilseed rape material, this project is aimed 1) at understanding how fruit shape and seed development is connected and 2) at testing if manipulation of oilseed rape fruit shape can improve seed yield.

The successful candidate will join a lab driven by a fundamental curiosity to understand plant
development. At the same time, we are keen to identify routes to translate our discoveries for crop
improvement. This project is aligned with a large collaborative programme called BRAVO aimed at
understanding the genetic networks underlying reproductive development in oilseed rape and vegetable Brassicas providing opportunities for interactions with both scientific and industry partners.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP). Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed as part of the studentship competition. Candidates will be interviewed on either the 7th, 8th or 9th January 2020.

The NRP DTP offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4-year research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. All NRPDTP students undertake a three-month professional internship (PIPS) during their study. The internship offers exciting and invaluable work experience designed to enhance professional development. Full support and advice will be provided by our Professional Internship team. Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second-class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply.

For further information and to apply, please visit our website: https://biodtp.norwichresearchpark.ac.uk/

Funding Notes

For funding eligibility guidance, please visit our website: View Website. Full Studentships cover a stipend (2019/0 rate: £15,009pa), research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate and are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.

Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award. Students in receipt of a fees-only award will be eligible for a maintenance stipend awarded by the NRPDTP Bioscience Doctoral Scholarships. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements.

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